Stark new figures show that a common pig virus, present on 99 per cent of pig farms has major economic implications for individual farmers and the pig industry as a whole, costing British farmers as much as 84 per pig (if the pig dies from the syndrome), and during epidemic periods, such as 2008, costing the pig industry 88M per year.
PMWS, a serious syndrome which results in emaciation and death in up to 30 per cent of cases. As part of a BBSRC-led initiative into combating endemic diseases of farmed animals, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) have spent the past five years working to understand the factors that lead to farms developing high rates of PMWS and creating models to work out the cost of the disease as well as the potential savings for farmers by tackling the disease in different ways.
Professor Dirk Werling, from RVC, who led the project, explains: "We've known for many years that this is a serious disease in pigs. It is now endemic globally and will haunt the pig industry for years to come; therefore it is crucial that we understand the biological basis of the virus as well as the cost implications. Knowing the financial impact of the illness can help farmers decide how best to improve the welfare and profitability of their herds. These figures are shocking, but are an important step in enabling farmers and the industry as a whole to look at feasible and sustainable intervention strategies."
Dr Pablo Alarcon, Professor Jonathan Rushton and Dr Barbara Wieland, all from RVC, produced a series of mathematical models, factoring in different scenarios such as the size of the pig herds, the proportion affected by PMWS
|Contact: Chris Melvin|
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council